Nav Tools

--> Most recent Blog

Comments Policy
Maths trivia
Search this site
RSS feed for Stu Savory's Blog RSS Feed

Site Meter

Stu Savory School report for Stu Savory
Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, geocacher and blogger living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any goddamn questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours :-) Oh, and he also has a neat English Bulldog bitch 'Frieda'.

And her big son 'Kosmo'.

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Friday, July 31, 2015

An upside-down house

Riding our motorcycles along the road downstream of Lake Eder, just outside the village of Affoldern, Frank and I came across a house which had been built upside down!

You are supposed to think that some stupid builder held the architect's plan the wrong way up; but of course it is just a tourist trap attraction. But we stopped, paid the iniquitous €5 entrance fee, and had a look inside.

All the regular fittings are in place and screwed to the "floor" which is of course the ceiling. The photo below shows the bathroom fittings in their normal orientation, which means that Frank appears to be upside down :-)

Of course the toilet paper "hangs" wrongly as does the electric cable and none of the taps worked, so it's an approximation. The illusion is quite good, but occasional minor details are a give-away. Can you see the conceptual error in the photo below? The window is tipped open at the "bottom" instead of the "top". More attention to detail needed! I want my money back!! ;-)

This normal view of the children's bedroom (below) shows how the bed is screwed to the ceiling as if it were the floor, and Teddy "laying" on the bed. Notice too how the prohibitory stickers on the door frame spoil the illusion by being displayed legibly, i.e. in normal orientation :-(

Plenty of visitors though, mostly families with small children. The owner probably makes far more in entrance fees than he would have gotten in rent if the house had been built right way up!

Comments (1) :
Hattie (Hawaii) wrote " Stu: I love the literal mindedness of this. Let's build an upside down house. Everything in it will be upside down. We will build this upside down house and put things in it upside down and charge people five Euros to come and look at our upside down house where everything is upside down." Frank and I enjoyed spotting the inconsistencies : for example, Frank is a roofer and pointed out that although the horizontal drainpipes are mounted upside-down for show, you still need a REAL drainage system and that this is why the house is tipped away from the horizontal so that hidden pipes can drain it from the runoff :-)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mayan Numerals

Mayan heiroglyphs show us that they used a number system counting to base 20 (rather than 10, as we do). So we can deduce that they either went barefoot or wore sandals, so that their toes were visible, so they could count on them :-)

A dot, such as you would get by sticking your finger in clay, represented one. Five dots were replaced by a line, like looking at a hand sideways. Four lines (think 2 hands and 2 feet) thus represented 20 and were replaced by a dot written one level up. Larger numbers were then written vertically, think boxes stacked on top of one another, a positional notation.

A positional notation needs a symbol for zero, the Mayan symbol looked like an empty shell (or a rugby ball in profile). So a dot over a shell meant 20. A dot over a shell over a shell meant 400 (=20*20). A dot over a shell over a shell over a shell meant 8000 (=20*20*20). So a bar and 3 dots over a shell over 2 dots meant 802 to base 20 = 3202; that clear?

Addition was easy, just group the levels together and apply replacement rules and upshifts as necessary. It's a bit like doing Roman Numeral arithmetic, except that the Romans didn't have a zero. Subtraction is easy too, multiplication a little harder and division quite a bit harder (do repeated subtraction and level shifts as needed).

This is slightly confused by the way dates were recorded. They grouped 18 (instead of 20 things) together at the second level to get a group of size 18*20 =360. Probably a rough estimate of the number of days in a solar year, some think. I, personally doubt this, because we know that the Mayans had a quite accurate calculation of 365.2422 days for the solar year. YMMV.

Now the Babylonians counted to base 60, which is three times 20. So we can deduce that they went barefoot AND were into threesomes ;-) But that's a subject for a different (censored) blogpost ;-)

Comments (2) :
Jenny (Ibiza) quips "Are you sure those are Mayan numbers? Sounds like it could just be Morse code ;-)" -. --- .-- / - .... . .-. . .----. ... / .- / - .... --- ..- --. .... -
Klaus (Alaska) must have had a premonition and sent me this card today :-)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Darwin Awards @ Kulmbach

Two young men (20,24) in Kulmbach - a small town in Bavaria famous for its beer - were obviously frustrated at the weekend by the big sign at the open-air swimming pool "Closed for repairs". Hint 1.

So that dark and moonless night they climbed over the tall fence to go for a swim. They clambered up the outside of the 10 meter (33 feet) diving tower, because the staircase had been removed(sic!) as part of the maintenance. Hint 2. They dived simultaneously from this height expecting a cooling splash.

What they failed to notice in the dark was that the pool had also been drained for the announced repairs. Both dead, one quickly, the other slowly :-(

It is not known whether drugs or alcohol or just being Bavarian contributed.

Comments (2) :
Hattie (Hawaii) wrote " My uncle did the same thing as your Darrwin winners, diving into an empty swimming pool when he was 18. He broke his neck but survived. Everyone thought he was an snob, because he couldn't bend his neck down, which gave him a snooty appearance. " I presume he only dived in from ground level, not the 10 meter board.
IBM Watson Personality Insights analysed this text and said this about my personality " You are expressive. You are confident: you are hard to embarrass and are self-confident most of the time. You are self-controlled: you have control over your desires, which are not particularly intense. And you are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. Your choices are driven by a desire for prestige. You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you. You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. *Compared to most people who participated in our surveys." Blogreaders might like to try analysing one of their own blogtexts.
Using my previous article about Gravity, Watson concluded " You are shrewd, skeptical and tranquil. You are imaginative: you have a wild imagination. You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. And you are independent: you have a strong desire to have time to yourself. Experiences that make you feel high efficiency are generally unappealing to you. You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider independence to guide a large part of what you do: you like to set your own goals to decide how to best achieve them." Surprisingly, that's about right :-)

Friday, July 24, 2015

How come black holes suck so much?

I don't really understand gravity. But then neither do the majority masses ;-)

An example: How come black holes suck from the inside too?

A black hole results when a star of mass more than about 5 suns collapses. Gravity pulls in all the material. The simple imaginary model shows space-time as a rubber sheet bearing (sic!) a heavy ball in a 3D cusp called the gravity well with the singularity at the "bottom". The steepness of the walls on the gravity well are a measure of strength of the gravitational field. This corresponds to the escape velocity needed to escape the gravity well. At some position the steepness of the gravity well walls imply that the escape velocity is equal to the speed of light. So nothing traveling at or below the speed of light can get out of the gravity well here. This limit is called the event horizon and the size of the black hole at this position on the wall is given as the Schwarzchild radius (yes, I'm ignoring the emission of Hawking radiation and the fact that the hole is most probably rotating, KISS).

On the other hand, we are taught that gravity travels at the speed of light. If the sun suddenly disappeared, we wouldn't notice until 8 minutes later, when the sky went black because the light takes 8 minutes to get from the sun to us. And only then would the Earth shoot off in almost a straight line because the gravitational pull of the sun had disappeared too.

And yet objects orbit around black holes (the Milky Way orbits a massive black hole near its centre) tighter than if the black hole merely had the mass outside the event horizon. So gravity must be permanently "escaping" from below the event horizon of a hairless black hole??? Making the black hole suck harder???

My brain imploded too :-(

And so I was duly pleased to read an article by astrophysicist Jillian Scudder on June 30th explaining how gravity escapes from a black hole; she has corrected my mental model and put my mind at rest. Thankyou, Jillian :-)

Comments (3) :
Cop Car (USA) wrote " I've been reading Siegel's postings for several years, but had not yet seen the Scudder piece. She presents information more clearly than many. Thanks!" Yes, it's a lucid article.
John (UK) snarked "The video by America's most popular lesbian , Ellen, with the all female audience, is too rehearsed to be convincing :-(" But her scriptwriters got the science right, although TBBT does it far better.
Pergelator (USA) wrote " I'm not sure I buy that business about gravity traveling at the speed of light. In order to properly test this you would need to create and/or destroy a sizeable chunk of matter, and such an event would probably overwhelm any gravity detectors in the neighborhood. But maybe you've got another explanation." Nope.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Village tractor fans' meet

Acouple of weekends ago, the tractor fan club in our village (see sweatshirt logo on the left) held a meet in a nearby meadow and brought along their oldtimer tractors for display and mutual admiration.

Here are some of the photos I took, first photo is of a Fendt, probably dating from the 1960s/70s.

Hanomag (see below) produced tractors from 1912 until 1969, when Hanomag was sold to Massey-Ferguson. This is an R22, from the fifties(?)

Even Porsche built a diesel tractor. This is powered by an air-cooled, four-stroke, 2466 cc, three-cylinder diesel producing 35 hp.

One farmer even had a Landau as a trailer, so that his family could come along for the ride. The after-market green sunshades were a good idea, at least until the thunderstorm squalls came :-(

In anticipation of the intense sunshine (it was 39°C, about 100°F) a makeshift tent was put up between the beer-stand and the grill. Then came a rain squall. The rain accumulated in the tarpaulins, as you can see in the photo. Later, a guy with a broom came around and poked at the paulins, so the water ran off.

Below is one of the rarer spoked-wheel Hanomags. Add-on silencer underneath to let the driver breathe clean air!

There is a local artist who makes sculptures from scrap metal. This 35 cm long model of a tractor uses old ball-bearings as wheels :-)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Uranus is a strange place ;-)

Been getting some complaints about the blog being too highbrow again, lately. So here is a deliberately lowbrow schoolboy humour type blog entry. YMMV ;-)

Scientists probed Uranus with a robot probe called Voyager 2 in January 1986 and concluded that Uranus is a gas giant. It also examined the rings around Uranus. Humanity has not been back since :-(

Uranus is indeed strange. When planets form from the accretion disc around a nascent sun, they tend to adopt their spin from the accretion disc, so the polar axis is usually aligned so that their equator is roughly in line with the accretion disc. This is not the case for Uranus, whose polar axis is pretty much at right angles to the plane of its orbit. We think that there was a collision of the accumulating planet Uranus with another planet-sized body early in the history of the Solar System. After all our moon was formed similarly from a collision with the Earth.

So the polar regions are either dark or bright (sunward side). Indeed the sunward pole of Uranus has a UV dayglow. The moons of Uranus are 50 shades of grey, due to the UV radiation darkening any methane trapped in the icy surfaces of the inner moons.

Uranus has more methane than Saturn and Jupiter, cause unknown, and has 4 times the diameter of Earth, so Uranus is quite big and smelly.

Herschel originally called his planet Georgium Sidus (George's Star), sucking up to the UK king who financed his observatory. But other nations objected and so it came to be called Uranus after the Greek god of the sky. It is the only planet whose name is derived from a figure from Greek mythology, the rest are Roman gods' names.

If you drew a cone from the centre of the Earth out to the perimeter of Uranus, it would intersect the Earth's surface with an area the size of a soccer pitch, that's how big Uranus is! FWIW, with a similar cone for the dwarf planet Pluto, the intersection area would be about the size of the goalkeeper. Again, FWIW, the massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy would have a cone intersecting the Earth's surface with an area the size of the exclamation mark's dot on your laptop.

But now that NASA's New Horizon probe is delivering such great photos of Pluto and Charon, noone is interested in Uranus anymore, so there!

Hey wow, lowbrow AND informative ;-)

Comments (3) :
John (UK) wrote "One of your worse posts. Go back to giving us trip photo-reports, they are low- and/or highbrow , but usually more interesting" Wilco.
Hattie (Hawaii) has more bad jokes " How is the Starship Enterprise like a Japanese toilet? It circles Uranus looking for Klingons. What did Spock find in Captain Kirk's toilet? The captain's log. Terry helped me with these jokes. I think you would really get along." A long what? ;-)
Doug (Canada) wrote " Thanks for this Stu - fascinating stuff - more please. You wrote : "FWIW, the massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy would have a cone intersecting the Earth's surface with an area the size of the exclamation mark's dot on your laptop." Which, if present, would be all it would need to start the consumption of the Earth :) OTOH, such small black holes evaporate (by Hawking radiation) so quickly, that maybe not? I'd have to do the math, but I haven't had my coffee yet. Only relatively small black holes (radius is less than 1/10mm) evaporate completely, it is claimed, so this is a borderline case. I doubt this claim, as the Hawking evaopration is a continuous quantum process and if the black hole were isolated in a large vacuum it would pull in no new material to counter the evaporation. Oh dear, the maths is getting too hard....

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hilbert's Hotel

Since I was already visiting the old town graveyard in Göttingen (see previous post), I took the opportunity to walk over to plot number 83 to pay my respects to the world-famous mathematician David Hilbert (1862-1943) too. The footnote on his headstone is one of his favourite sayings (I translate) : "We must know. We will know. "

Hilbert is famous for a number of things (see Wikipedia article behind the link). He compiled a list of 23 unsolved problems at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris in 1900. This is generally reckoned the most successful and deeply considered compilation of open problems ever to be produced by an individual mathematician.

He is also popularly known for the Hilbert's Hotel paradox. Hilbert's Hotel has an infinite number of rooms, all full. But it can accomodate a new guest just by having all the existing guests move (in parallel, thus in a finite time) to the room with a number 1 more than their allotted one! The new guest is then put into room one :-) Not only that. Since each number has a unique double, if each existing guest moves to a room number twice his alloted one, then the hotel can accomodate infinitely many new guests! They are put in the odd-numbered rooms. Not only that. If infinitely many coaches each with infinitely many seats arrive, then even all these new guests can be accomodated in Hilbert's Hotel (which was already full!) via an appropriate mapping function. Below this headstone, Hilbert sleeps alone...

By wry coincidence(?) there are no other graves on plot#83 to the left of David Hilbert's grave ;-) I wonder who came up with that positive idea ? ;-)

Comments (4) :
Hattie (Hawaii) wrote enthusiastically " Hi, Stu. I get such a kick out of your blog! It's all kinds of fun: personal, but also about the things that interest you, the places you've been and in general a look at the life of an interesting person. Happy aninversary, too. And I am enjoying your take on Goettingen. We were there in the dead of winter years ago and I remember being impressed with the old-tmey German look of the place. I'd like to go back there some time. Anyway, just to let you know that you have a blogger pal in Hawaii. Drop on by sometime. I'm sure we would hit it off with you. We've got great hikes in Volcanoes National Park, which I suspect would be the major attraction for you. That. and the astronomy on Mauna Kea, now at the center of a lot of controversy but basically a Good Thing. I guess it's through Cop Car that we have met in cyberspace. I don't know her in person, but we have communicated via our blogs for at least a decade. Anyway,Aloha, " Thankyou, fans are always welcome :-) I've been to Hawaii twice. Chartered a helicopter one time and flew around volcanoes, active lava holes, down waterfalls and enjoyed the spectacular scenery. Rode a touristy downhill bike down the Mauna Kea road too. First visit, I did the tourist trip around Pearl harbour. The guide was an old Navy guy, getting apoplexic and asking rhetorically "Have you ever seen anything more barbaric than this?", so I replied quietly "Yes, I just came in from Hiroshima." That didn't make me very popular ;-) Oh, and I remember that I saw a large mall store there called "Hilo Hattie's" :-)
Jenny (Ibiza) asks " ...And just where would this hotel be?" In Hilbert's mind. It's a purely theoretical construct, just to explain a bit about the mental traps when dealing with infinity.
Ed (USA) and 2 other Anons "Getting too highbrow again. KISS!" OK, I'll do some simple ones next, but I function best at this higher level and others (see Hattie above) seem to like it :-)
Cop Car (USA) wrote " I've concluded that there are some questions that are nonsensical, including: What is infinity? An aside: There you go stealing my blog friends, again. How dare you?! *chuckling* You and Hattie should do well in a face-on meeting." Infinity is where Satan divided by Zero ;-)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pilgrimage to Göttingen

Just as every Moslem should take a Hajj to Mecca, every Catholic a pilgrimage to Rome, so should every scientist visit the old town cemetery in Göttingen. And since it is barely 70 miles from here, I rode my motorcycle over there recently to pay my respects to the eight Nobel prizewinners buried there.

During the first half of the 20th century, the university at Göttingen was the leading place in the whole world for scientific study and research. Then along came Hitler, fired all the Jewish professors, and German science went downhill suddenly :-( But 44 Nobel prizewinners were/are associated with Göttingen, and eight of them are buried in the huge old town graveyard where I took the photos below.

Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) was the man who invented dynamite (and had 350 other patents too) from which he made a fortune (he owned Bofors). This fortune was used posthumously to institute the Nobel Prizes for scientific excellence etc. There is no more famous award.

The graveyard itself has a small, peaceful, idyllic lake near the 8 graves.

A special Nobel rondell has been erected nearby too. It has the form of a regular 17-sided polygon; this is a hat-tip to Gauss, who was also a professor at the uni there. As a boy, he was the first person to construct a 17-gon using compass and straightedge only (Euclid's toolkit). The central plinth bears a round emblem of Alfred Nobel, weathered and hard to see in my photo.

Most of the Nobel prizewinners' graves are kept uniformly simple. No religious symbolism, no lists of degrees and titles, no date-of-birth or date-of-death, just the name at the top. And, very interesting, a scientific footnote at the bottom! First time I have ever seen a gravestone with a footnote on it :-) On the left below, Max Planck's gravestone footnote displays the quantum Planck length. On the right below, Otto Hahn's gravestone footnote displays the fission equation for uranium. These are the things for which they were awarded their Nobel prizes.

One other has no headstone (I assume he didn't want one), just a small ground-level plaque at some random position in a bed of ivy, as if they were uncertain where to put it exactly, lest it jump around ;-)

The eight Nobel Prize winners buried here are (in alphabetical order) :-

  • Max Born, Physics 1954, statistical interpretation of the QM wave function
  • Otto Hahn, Chemistry 1944, discovery of nuclear fission
  • Max von Laue, Physics 1914 , diffraction of X-rays by crystals
  • Walther Nernst, Chemistry 1920, calculation of chemical affinity
  • Max Planck, Physics 1918 , originated quantum theory
  • Otto Wallach, Chemistry 1910, for work on alicyclic compounds
  • Adolf Windaus, Chemistry 1928, for his work on sterols and vitamins
  • Richard Zsigmondy, Chemistry 1925, for his research in colloids
Max Planck was a man with a great deal of (civil) courage because he stood up to Hitler and told him it was a bad idea to fire all the Jewish scientists. Not that his protest stopped Hitler in his antisemitism, but it was a brave thing to do!

More about this graveyard in a later post, to follow . . .

Comments (2) :
Cop Car (USA) wrote " I must say that I wasn't immediately taken by the subject of your posting on the cemetery in Göttingen. However, by the time I reached the lead-in to the last photo, I had a huge grin on my face. You wrote the perfect lead-in to Heisenberg's marker stone! Thanks for the chuckle and for the posting." Thanks. It's a metal plaque, btw.
John (UK) wrote "Nice idea, headstones with footnotes!" I thought so too :-)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Silver Wedding :-)

SWMBO and I married (late) 25 years ago today - a thursday - narrowly avoiding a friday 13th for which - mysteriously - no registry office bookings seemed to have been made ;-) So today we're quietly celebrating on our own - no guests, no party, just us.

I got her this bouquet of 25 long-stemmed roses by way of a thankyou :-)

Comments (2) :
Ed (USA) wrote "We married young and on our silver anniversary re-used the old guest list :-)" That's nice, Ed. We just went through our collection of congratulatory cards, letters and telegrams we got 25 years ago, with the depressing result : Dead, dead, cancer, divorced, Parkinson's, heart attack, obese... :-(
Cop Car (USA) wrote " Thanks for sharing the photos, Stu. Belated congratulations for your first 25 years. If you and SWMBO have the genes, you might possibly make it for another 25. I'm rooting for you two!" Thankyou, but given my pre-existing conditions, I have the same remaining life expectancy as our dogs :-(

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mean Statistics

Blogreader Ed (USA) sent me this White House claim and asked "How can this be? I thought the average is always 50%?"

There are different kinds of average Ed. The MEDIAN has 50% of the children above and 50% below by definition. Here they are using the MEAN. Sum all the IQ scores and divide by the number of children to get the Mean. Example : assume 9 children get a score of 100, but one dumbass gets 90. Then the total is 990, divided by 10 children gets a mean IQ of 99. Lo and behold, 90% of the kids have above average (Mean) IQ. Now if that dumbass was bright and had scored 110, the mean would be 101 and 90% would be below average (the mean) :-( But 50% would still be above the median :-)

Now a whole different kettle of fish is to ask "What do IQ tests actually measure?". They are an ordinal scale which correlates with problem-solving ability, we are told. But different psychologists may explain it differently. Results may depend on your background and culture : if I gave you a test written in German you might score far less than one in English. And if the test was really about knowledge of the Koran, we'd both fail ;-) It's difficult as a tester to design tests without a bias.

But children who score higher on IQ tests will, on average, go on to do better in conventional measures of success in life: academic achievement, economic success, even greater health, and longevity. This is regarded as an advantage in meritocratic societies (not all are, some are theocratic, some oligarchic etc).

If I were among the politicians responsible for claim shown above, I'd not have used it. Because as the example I gave above shows, it means they have "educated" some (25%) kids so badly that those kids dragged the MEAN so far down that the other 75% scored above the mean :-( If I were in their shoes, I'd want to track the MEDIAN score over the years and decades. A downward drift of the Median score is what you call the "dumbing down of America", always assuming the test-difficulty remains the same. Weaker tests and score-inflation may be used to (supposedly) counter that trend :-(

Did that help?

Comments (4) :
Someone alleging to be Christopher Locke (he of Cluetrain Manifesto fame? We share a background in AI) sent me a link to an IQ Elite site, which turned out just to be a dating site (bit late for that, I'm 71 and happily married!). Needless to say, his name did NOT crop up as part of their team :-(
Anon (USA) sent me this appropriate Jeb Bush cartoon :-)
Cop Car (USA) wrote " They should label the tests "KQ" for Knowledge Quotient. I'm not aware of any benefit that accrues from our taking/giving such tests. What is the good? Am I being short-sighted?" They keep school psychiatrists, teachers, SAT-testers etc in employment ;-)
Cop Car (USA) wrote again " Everything comes from me, belatedly! It finally occurs to me that I know the population from which the kids were drawn: Lake Wobegone ( - where, according to Garrison Keillor, "All the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."" A republican american friend once said to me "Do not underestimate George Bush!", to which I replied "That is not possible ;-)"

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A motorcycle trip to Trier

Most tourists visiting Trier on the Mosel river go there to see the Porta Nigra (Black gate). It's the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps.

The second most popular place amongst the tourists is Karl Marx's birthplace, which is now the Karl Marx museum, well worth a visit.

Much less well known is the Löwen (=Lion) apothecary, Google has a bunch of photos, because I forgot to take one of the impressive reddish entrance.

This is Germany's oldest apothecary, deeded in 1241 AD and family owned since 1660. The inside was rebuilt in 1966 by the Berlin architect Glahn in a very modern minimalist style; be sure to take a look inside. The Cologne-style ceiling is still from 1695 however. An insider tip from my good friend Marion :-)

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Weierstraβ Lecture, 2015

Karl Weierstraß (1815-1897) attended the local grammar school where he passed his university entrance exams at the top of his class. He went on to become one of the famous mathematicians of the 19th century as the founder of modern analysis. Friday we celebrated his 200th birthday.

In his memory, the mathematics department of the local university invites famous guest lecturers each year to give public lectures, understandable even to those of us with less developed mathematical muscles(?). This year the historical introductory lecture was by Professor Dr. Peter Ullrich (University of Koblenz-Landau) "On the influence of Karl Weierstraβ on modern mathematics". Most of this we all knew already.

This was followed by the main invited lecture : Fields medalist Professor Dr. Wendelin Werner (ETH Zürich, Switzerland) who talked about the construction of special self-avoiding random walks. The Fields medal is awarded every 4 years to world-class mathematicians aged under 40 for brilliant papers. It is the maths equivalent of a Nobel prize, there being no Nobel prize for maths. Werner won the medal in 2006.

I printed out a copy of Werner's 2008 paper "The conformally invariant measure on self-avoiding loops" and took it along on friday, getting an autograph on the front page for my collection. His talk covered various methods (percolation, uniform-spanning tree, random polymer) of doing self-avoiding random walks and calculated the fractal dimensions of each. Nigh on 2 hours of concentration and I'm not sure how much the local freshmen got from it. Probably too highbrow for them? Oh yes, and he ran late ;-)

Comments (1) :
John (UK) asks "Is that just pure maths or are they actually useful for anything?" Chemists use them for modelling polymers and solvents.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Greek Referendum day

Florence Margaret Smith, aka Stevie Smith summed up the situation leading to today's referendum in Greece already, Not waving but drowning...

Mind you, I doubt whether you or I, but especially the Grecian poor, can even understand the question, let alone the consequences. OXI Morons :-(

Meanwhile, in Brussels, the temperature has reached 40°C (=104°F) . . .

Comments (1) :
Hattie (Hawaii) quips "The heat is on!" He he, indeed. But our lousy Europoliticians will probably fold as usual :-(

Recent Writings
An upside-down house
Mayan Numerals
Black holes suck...
Village tractor meet
Uranus is strange ;-)
Hilbert's Hotel
Pilgrimage to Göttingen
Silver Wedding :-)
Mean Statistics
Weierstraβ Lecture
Greek Referendum day
US geographic ignorance
Toy Museum
He He He, Efimov is right
The Rudi Blues :-)
Hitstorm? Not really :-(
Napoleon's Waterloo Hat

Ain Bulldog Blog
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Hattie (Hawaii)
Making Light
Mostly Cajun
Murr Brewster
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
Rants from t'Rookery
Scary Duck
Spork in the drawer
Squatlo Rant
Yellowdog Grannie

Archive 2015:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun
Archive 2014:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
This blog is getting really unmanegable, so I am taking the first 12 years' archives offline. My blog, my random decision. Tough shit; YOLO.
Link Disclaimer
ENGLISH : I am not responsible for the contents or form of any external page to which this website links. I specifically do not adopt their content, nor do I make it mine.
DEUTSCH : Für alle Seiten, die auf dieser Website verlinkt sind, möchte ich betonen, dass ich keinerlei Einfluss auf deren Gestaltung und Inhalte habe. Deshalb distanziere ich mich ausdrücklich von allen Inhalten aller gelinkten Seiten und mache mir ihren Inhalt nicht zu eigen.

This Blog's Status is
Blog Dewey Decimal Classification : 153
FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it’s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)
Books I have written

Index/Home Impressum Sitemap Search site/www